Body & Health: Stress
We asked: What stresses you out the most?
Chatelaine surveyed 1,000 Canadian women between the ages of 35 and 45 to find out how much stress they’re under, how often they’re ticked off and when they last laughed so hard they cried.
What is your relationship status?
- Common law19%
- Dating someone8%
What is your employment status?
- Working full-time54%
- Working part-time13%
- Full-time mom9%
- Not working right now15%
Do you have kids?
- Yes, they live with me full-time60%
- Yes, they live with me part-time3%
- Yes, they don’t live with me4%
The number-one word women use to describe how they feel? Tired.
“good,” “happy,” “stressed,” “exhausted,” “anxious,” “average,” “blah.”
86 percent of women experience stress in their lives. 29 percent say they feel a great deal of stress.
Are we more stressed than we used to be?
“The issue of work-life balance really started in the ’90s. Larger companies downsized into smaller companies, which meant more work demands and longer hours; costs of living went up, so families with one income needed two; new technologies like laptops and cellphones meant you started to take work home. So it’s nothing new — but the flavour and intensity of it can be different. And we have worked in the past five or 10 years to reduce the stigma around stress and mental health. Because though every age comes with its own stressors, this age for women means a lot of juggling: work responsibilities, child care, elder care, household debt, household chores, relationships. Normalizing talk around this stress encourages people to seek help and report it.” — Dr. Katy Kamkar, clinical psychologist at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
81 percent say money causes them a lot of or some stress. What else makes us tense?
- Health concerns62%
- No personal time59%
- Family commitments57%
77 percent say stress translates into sleep problems. And 59 percent say stress affects their relationships with others.
How can our exhausted selves better cope with stress?
We know, from stacks of research and a lifetime of experience, that stress wreaks havoc on our ability to sleep. There’s a pretty solid evolutionary reason for that: Survival generally depends on not dozing off when danger is near. But there’s a catch, too, which is that when we’re exhausted, we’re far likelier to see unclear social situations in a negative light. A colleague left you off the group email for after-work drinks? She didn’t make an honest mistake — she must hate you. And then you explode. “Research suggests that sleep deprivation triggers heightened emotional reactions to negative information and makes it difficult for us to control our behaviour,” says Larissa Barber, a psychology professor at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.
Of course, that explosion is rarely directed at our colleagues; Barber’s work confirms that we tend to take out our frustrations on people at home. More than half of Chatelaine’s respondents say when they lose their temper, they lose it on their partner or kids. But wait! Barber discovered a way to break this vicious cycle of stress, sleeplessness and tantrums. In a February 2017 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, she found that people who exercised had no trouble keeping their negative emotions in check. She could even get specific: Average more than 10,500 steps a day, or burn at least 2,100 calories, and you probably won’t act like a jerk — even if your sleep is as junky as ever. “It gives us a new perspective on the importance of exercise,” Barber says. “It’s not just good for you, it’s good for your relationships at home too.”
37 percent of women exercise to deal with stress. But more take time alone (53 percent) or talk it out with family and friends (42 percent).
A third have laughed so hard within the past week they cried. 20 percent haven’t laughed that hard in the past year.
What makes you scream with laughter?
“Videos of animals doing incongruous things. Last night, I watched a video of a turtle chasing a ball. What would he do if he caught it? There’s a whole subgenre involving videos of dogs trying to walk in boots. If I’m feeling pissed off at humanity, if people have really been sticking in my craw, watching animals earnestly give it their all — even when destined to fail — is really inspiring.” – Gretchen, 37
52 percent have lost their temper in the past week. 7 percent lose their temper serveral times a day.
What makes you scream with anger?
“Cilantro. It looks all green and innocent, but it leaves you spitting out something that tastes as though someone’s poured a gallon of soap all over your nice food. And it’s not like you can just pick out cilantro, because even a tiny shred taints everything else. You get a salad, and you think it’s topped with Italian parsley, which is a perfectly reasonable, neutral herb, and then that first bite: soap. And that’s it. That’s lunch ruined.” – Nina, 43
36 percent are yellers. How else do women express their anger?
- They cry17%
- They get defensive13%
- They retreat12%
- They swallow their anger9%
- They get mean9%
84 percent do not believe anger is unfeminine.
Our online survey was conducted by Abacus Data with 1,000 women between 35 and 45 in Canada, January 3–5, 2017. A random sample of panellists were invited to complete the survey from a large representative panel of Canadians, recruited and managed by Research Now, one of the world’s leading providers of online research samples. For complete methodology, visit chatelaine.com.
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